With a full slate of titles ready to hit retail shelves this fall, Agoura Hills, California-based game publisher THQ is amping up its efforts in the kids gaming department under the watchful eye of new EVP Doug Clemmer.
The gameco shuffled its exec ranks at the end of June, establishing three new units: Core games, online and, of course, kids, family and casual. Clemmer stepped up from his position at THQ’s ValuSoft casual games division to helm the kids biz, including in-bound licensing (entertainment licensors take note).
Though it’s early days to talk about specific projects, Clemmer says development for Microsoft’s controller-free Project Natal for Xbox 360 is a big priority. ‘Getting off the couch is important and it’s changing the gameplay,’ he notes, referring to the runaway success of Wii Fit and THQ’s own family-friendly activity titles such as All-Star Cheer Squad and Neighborhood Games.
As for THQ’s approach to kids properties, it won’t all be about pouring time and money into developing titles based on blockbuster IPs. ‘We’ll probably be prone to jumping on new things faster because we can get to market faster and relatively timely in relation to whatever’s trending at that point,’ says Clemmer. But he’s not leaving licenses altogether and has games based on Disney’s Cars, Marvel’s Super Hero Squad and DreamWorks’ Oobermind on-deck, along with the forthcoming boys DS title Dangerous Days of Daniel X, inspired by the bestselling book series by James Patterson.
It’s all about balance for Clemmer, whose aiming for a more even split of licenses and original IP in THQ’s portfolio. He’d also like to make some tweaks to the release schedule for family titles. Anticipated hardcore-gamer titles often hit retail around the end of the year or first quarter, so Clemmer wants to see more scattered, year-round launch dates as games aren’t purchased solely around the Christmas shopping season.